GOP Debate Touches on Evolution, God

Republican presidential candidates met Tuesday night for a CNN-sponsored debate that once again touched on faith and God.

At St. Anselm College in Manchester, N.H., three of the presidential hopefuls expounded on their stance on evolution and how that fits into their belief in a higher being.

The topic followed a month after the first GOP debate held in California, where all candidates were asked to raise their hand if they did not believe in evolution; three nominees responded in agreement at that time.

"In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth," explained former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. "A person either believes that God created the process or believes that it was an accident and that it just happened all on its own."

Huckabee spent the longest time defending his faith and belief in a higher order, and went on to explain the value and uniqueness of humans.

"If anybody wants to believe that they are the descendants of a primate, they are certainly welcome to do it," explained the presidential hopeful, who is also an ordained Baptist minister.

When asked whether or not he believed in a literal interpretation of Genesis in the Bible, which argues that the universe was created in six-days, Huckabee stated that he was not sure.

"Whether God did it in six days or whether He did it in six days that represented periods of time, He did it," added the former state governor. "And that's what's important."

There has been much debate lately between Christians about how to interpret the story of creation in the Bible, especially with the opening last week of the Creation Museum in Kentucky, which illustrates the literal six-day creation model in the Bible using science.

On one side, "young earth creationist" proponents believe that every word in Genesis should be taken literally, so the world must have been created in one week approximately 6,000 years ago. "Old earth creationists," however, mostly agree with the concept of the earth being billions of years old, and that the story of Genesis is more of a metaphorical description of how the world was created by God.

According to a Newsweek poll conducted late March, 73 percent of Evangelical Protestants said they believe that God created humans in their present form within the last 10,000 years. In contrast, 39 percent of non-Evangelical Protestants and 41 percent of Catholics agreed.

Following Huckabee's comments, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who had affirmed his belief in evolution a month earlier, followed up in agreement to the governor.

"I admire [Huckabee's] description, because I hold that view," said McCain, an Episcopalian, in the debate. "There's no doubt in my mind that the hand of God was in what we are today. And I do believe that we are unique, and [I] believe that God loves us."

Also among those that spoke about the issue was Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas.

He recently wrote an op-ed column in the New York Times on May 31 to clarify his position on evolution after he had raised his hand in opposition to Darwin's theory during the first GOP debate. In it, the senator explained the importance of both science and faith, and how both must be used together for a full understanding of life. He echoed those sentiments in Tuesday's debate.

"I believe we are created in the image of God for a particular purpose, and I believe that with all my heart," explained Brownback. "I am fully convinced there's a God of the universe that loves us very much and was involved in the process. How He did it, I don't know.

"One of the problems we have with our society today is that we've put faith and science at odds with each other," added the Roman Catholic. "They aren't at odds with each other. If they are, check your faith, or check your science."

Huckabee did comment that the question was unfair, however, and that it should not have been a part of the presidential debate.

"It's interesting that that question would even be asked of somebody running for president. I'm not planning on writing the curriculum for an eighth-grade science book," concluded the Arkansas Republican. "I believe there's a God who was active in the creation process. Now, how did He do it and when did He do it and how long did He take, I don't honestly know. And I don't think knowing that would make me a better or a worse president."

Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado was not asked to respond to the question during the night despite that he was the third person to have raised his hand against evolution last month.